It isn't often that a friend who lives in Manhattan calls (or in this case, texts) to suggest we have dinner at an out of the way Brooklyn restaurant that I've never heard of. Yet that is exactly what happened last Tuesday night, when Alexandra, my former co-worker and fellow food lover proposed we go to The Farm on Adderley, a new restaurant in Ditmas Park. I immediately texted back an enthusiastic yes, then hopped online to learn more about where we'd be sharing a long overdue dinner.
Opened just one week ago by Alexandra's two friends Gary Jonas and Allison McDowell (both of whom had no prior restaurant experience), The Farm on Adderley is hoping to bring the farm back to Ditmas Park, an area that was once occupied by farmland. To do so, their very reasonably priced menu (the most expensive dish, a hangar steak is still a NY bargain at $16) incorporates seasonal dishes made with ingredients from local purveyors including Shelbourne Farms, Golden Ridge Cheese Co-op, Sheldon Farms, local greenmarkets and others. I don't think I'd been this excited about trying a new restaurant in a long time.
When Wednesday rolled around, I called the Farm to find out which subway lines would get me there. I was told to take the F or Q, so I opted for the former even though I'd been warned that it'd be a very long walk once I arrived. I, always up for a nice stroll, quickly scribbled down the directions and was on my way.
A few stops past Park Slope, I exited the train at Church Avenue and began what really was a long walk to the restaurant. It took about twenty minutes and though I do love walking, I had chosen to wear high heels, it was hot, and I was close to starving. Luckily, the last stretch led me down Stratford Road, where grand Victorian homes seem to spring out of nowhere, their manicured lawns and large porches reminiscent of streets in my suburban hometown. It was at first soothing, and then surreal, especially when the street abruptly ended, depositing me back in the middle of bustling Brooklyn.
At the restaurant, the bar was buzzing and both the small indoor dining room and serene garden were full of diners who seemed liked they'd been coming to The Farm for years. After waiting about 15 minutes, Alexandra and I were seated outside opposite a splashy mural from the nursery school that had formerly occupied the space. Though we had quite a lot of catching up to do, we first focused on the menu and she, who had already been to the Farm on a few occasions, helped guide our order.
I decided to start off with poached fresh wild caught shrimp and Alexandra selected an endive salad with fuji apple, Maytag blue cheese, bacon and walnut. As we talked about her upcoming move to Italy, Gary and Allison each checked on us a few times, and I sang their praises, impressed by both the knowledgeable service and the restaurant's warm, cozy setting.
Considering the menu's reasonable prices, I worried about skimpy portions and was pleasantly surprised to receive just the opposite. Both of our appetizers were large, almost entree size, and I was particularly pleased by the plump pieces of shrimp and hearty heaps of avocado and tangy pickled cucumbers that came with mine. We slowly cleaned our plates, swapping a number of stories, but never quite finishing any, and awaited the arrival of the two entrees we'd be splitting.
I started with the chicken in the hay, a dish I normally wouldn't have ordered but agreed to after Alexandra assured me it was unlike any other chicken dish I've ever tried.
I'm not sure exactly how you roast chicken over hay, but I'd sure like to learn considering this particular piece of poultry was remarkably moist and tender and didn't require my usual generous shakes of salt. It also came with a side of quinoa, a slightly nutty grain that had been topped with small pats of farmer's cheese. I forgot to ask our waitress what type of cheese it was exactly, but the flavor was fairly light and mellow, so a few extra pieces would have been nice, but not entirely necessary. When it came time to switch plates with Alexandra, I was sad to see the chicken go.
The grilled brook trout, served with fork crushed Yukon potatoes, chard, and coriander seed vinaigrette was good, but I have to admit I didn't fully give it a chance since I was still lamenting the loss of the chicken. Such is the life of a food lover who is learning to share!
As we scraped our plates clean once again, I couldn't stop thinking about a particular dessert that Alexandra had told me I must try: milk chocolate mousse with salted cream. I know this might sound strange, just as my habit of putting thin slices of cheddar cheese on top of toast with jelly always seems to receive some raised eyebrows, but in my opinion, nothing is better then spicing up dessert with a hint of salt. If you don't believe me, march yourself over to Mario Batali's Otto and try a scoop of his olive oil gelato which comes topped with a nice pinch of it. I also like eating hunks of dark chocolate with a sprinkling of sea salt, so I knew I'd fall hard for this particular sweet & salty combination, and fall I did.
Although we also ordered a peach-blueberry crisp which came piping hot with a nice, large scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was this velvety smooth mousse that I couldn't stop eating. I was sad when my spoon scooped up the last bite, but since The Farm also doesn't skimp on dessert, my stomach thanked me.
At the end of the evening, Allison and Gary joined us outside to relax a little bit before calling it a night. They begged for some critiques -- any and all that we could think of -- and we really could come up with none. The prices were right, the attention to detail was apparent, and their complete ease as first time restaurateurs was simply amazing. I'm not sure if Alexandra will be able to go back before she heads off for Rome, but she can be sure that I'm planning on many future visits.
The Farm on Adderley
1108 Cortelyou Road